Saving your self: How identity relevance influences product usage

Daniel Sheehan, Sara Loughran Dommer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Although research has consistently demonstrated that people prefer to purchase products and brands that represent their identity, relatively little research has examined how this identity relevance influences product usage. Drawing from work on intertemporal choice, the present work proposes a conceptual framework for the influence of identity on product usage. The authors theorize and demonstrate an identity conservation effect, in that consumers are less likely to use nondurable identity products compared to nonidentity products because the tradeoff between possession value and in-use value is larger for identity products. Six studies demonstrate the identity conservation effect and provide support for the value tradeoff framework through both mediation and theoretically supported moderation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1092
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Consumer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Daniel Sheehan ( is an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506. Sara Loughran Dommer ( is an assistant professor of marketing at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30308. This research was partially funded by the Ray C. Andersen Center for Sustainable Business at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. The authors would like to thank Karen Page Winterich, Nicole Verrochi Coleman, Ryan Hamilton, and Allan (Haipeng) Chen for their comments on a previous version of this article. Please address correspondence to Daniel Sheehan. Supplementary materials are included in the web appendix accompanying the online version of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • consumption
  • identity
  • in-use value
  • possession value
  • product usage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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